The Dwight Howard saga is finally over.
Howard was officially traded from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday in a four-team, 12-player deal that also included the Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers.
In addition to Howard, the Magic sent guard Chris Duhon and forward Earl Clark to the Lakers in exchange for forward Josh McRoberts and swingman Christian Eyenga. Orlando also shipped guard Jason Richardson to Philadelphia for center Nikola Vucevic and first-round draft pick Moe Harkless, while also acquiring guard Arron Afflalo and forward Al Harrington from Denver.
The Nuggets picked up forward Andre Iguodala from Philadelphia and the 76ers obtained center Andrew Bynum from the Lakers.
A total of five draft picks over the next five years will also head Orlando's way. The Magic will receive a second-round pick from Denver in 2013, a first- round pick from either Denver or New York in 2014, a conditional first-round pick from Philadelphia and a conditional second-round pick from the Lakers in 2015, and a conditional first-round pick from Los Angeles in 2017.
"A primary goal for our basketball team is to achieve sustainability while maintaining a long-term vision," said new Magic GM Rob Hennigan. "We feel this deal puts us in a position to begin building in that direction. In addition to the six players joining our team, we will be in a position to maximize our salary cap flexibility in the near future, as well as utilize the multiple draft picks we have acquired going forward."
Thus ends Howard's eight-year tenure in Orlando. He helped the Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals, ironically a five-game loss to the Lakers, but his relationship with the team had become somewhat stormy since December.
Howard asked for a trade in December, just prior to the lockout-shortened season, and speculation of a deal was rampant just before the trade deadline in March. He then signed a waiver to void the early termination clause in his contract, basically opting in for another season with Orlando.
A back problem that required surgery halted Howard's 2011-12 season in early April and an issue with Stan Van Gundy eventually ended with the head coach's ouster in May. General manager Otis Smith also departed.
There were then reports that a trade was imminent and the only destination Howard would accept was Brooklyn. The Nets reportedly made an offer in July, but a deal was never consummated.
In all, Howard was a six-time All-Star and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year during his time in Orlando. He has averaged 18.4 points, 13.0 rebounds and 2.16 blocks in 621 games since the Magic selected him with the first overall pick of the 2004 draft.
"Dwight Howard accomplished tremendous success on and off the court during his eight years in Orlando," Hennigan added. "We wish him, Chris (Duhon), Earl (Clark) and Jason (Richardson) all the best in the future."
Clark played in 78 regular-season games during his two seasons with Orlando, averaging 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds, while Duhon appeared in 114 regular- season games in two seasons with the Magic, averaging 3.2 points, 2.4 assists and 1.4 rebounds.
The 31-year-old Richardson averaged 11.6 points for Orlando last season. In 11 seasons with Golden State, Charlotte, Phoenix and Orlando, he has averaged 17.5 points.
Joining Richardson in Philadelphia is Bynum -- the second-biggest name in the deal. He can become a free agent after the 2012-13 season, as can Howard for that matter.
The Lakers originally selected Bynum with the 10th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft out of St. Joseph High School in New Jersey. In seven NBA seasons, the 24-year-old has appeared in 392 games with 300 starts, averaging 11.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.60 blocks.
"We'd like to thank Andrew for all he's done for the team and the organization," said Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak. "Andrew has been with us since we drafted him at 17 years old and over the last seven years we have watched him develop into an All-Star player who has helped the team win two NBA championships. He's a special talent with a bright future. We appreciate all of his contributions and wish him well for the remainder of his career."
This past season, Bynum averaged career highs of 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds for the Lakers and was voted as a starter for the Western Conference in his first All-Star appearance.
"We are very excited to welcome Andrew Bynum, one of the league's best young centers, and Jason Richardson, a proven, respected veteran, to the Philadelphia 76ers," said managing owner Josh Harris. "As we stated from the outset, our ownership group is committed to exploring every option available to us in order to improve our team. This trade is the culmination of a very active offseason, one that we believe positions the Sixers for success this season and for many years to come."
Iguodala, currently playing for the United States at the Olympics, is the only player heading to Denver in the deal. He was chosen with the ninth overall pick by Philadelphia in the 2004 NBA Draft. In 615 games for the Sixers, he averaged 15.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists.
"It's not often you get the opportunity to improve your team by adding an All- Star player like Andre Iguodala," said Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri. "He's an Olympian, a great defender and a great all- around player. We think he fits in really well with the type of system coach George Karl runs and the team we have here in Denver."
The Nuggets will part with Afflalo and Harrington.
Afflalo, who signed a five-year, $43 million contract prior to last season, averaged a career-high 15.2 points and 2.4 assists for Denver last season, while the 32-year-old Harrington put up 14.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
"It's always tough to lose good guys, and we appreciate the professionalism of Arron and Al," Ujiri added. "They were a big part of our success and we thank them for what they did for the Denver Nuggets."
Vucevic averaged 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds in 51 games in his rookie campaign with the Sixers, who also sent Harkless to Orlando. He was the 15th overall pick of the draft after being named the Big East's top freshman in his lone season at St. John's.
McRoberts averaged 2.8 points and 3.4 rebounds in 50 games for the Lakers last year, while Eyenga appeared in seven combined games last season for the Lakers and Cleveland.